Jesus healing women

Simon’s mother-in-law Luke 4:38-39

This story shows up in the three “synoptic” Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—so called, because they share many parallel stories. John’s Gospel was written years later and sought to explain the stories that now circulated widely, about Jesus and His word. John also sought to instruct in the deeper spiritual truths the apostles had been teaching ever since Jesus’ resurrection and rising up into heaven.

Matthew’s account is recorded eight chapters into his gospel, but in actual fact, this story happened very early on in Jesus’ ministry—Mark placed it in the first chapter of his gospel, where it matches Luke’s chronology almost exactly.

The day began as the Holy Sabbath, the first Sabbath after Jesus had gathered His first six disciples, the brothers Andrew and Simon (we'll call him Peter, since that's his more recognized name. But in this story comes so early in the narrative, Jesus had not even given Simon his new name, yet); brothers James and John; and the two young friends and theologians, Philip and Nathanael. After returning from Jerusalem, having just celebrated the Feast of Passover, Jesus now had settled Himself in Capernaum, at Peter’s house, as His home base, and had begun teaching in the synagogue, healing, and driving out demons.

No one had yet thought to question Jesus’ right to heal on the Sabbath, or to teach with such authority. In fact, in those early days, people were often struck with, as the Gospel writers described it, amazement and frank admiration for Jesus, and were happy to come to Him. Jesus held them spell-bound as He taught powerfully on God’s Kingdom, then showed them with what glorious power God was now at work.

No small part of their wonder came from Jesus saying, unlike the rabbis and teachers they were accustomed to, “You have heard it said…but I say to you.” Ordinarily, rabbis and religious teachers would begin with citing the theologians and commentators of their day, then either expand, or expound, on those learned teachings. Jesus spoke with the authority of one who is the source of knowledge and wisdom. Jesus made no appeal to human wisdom or authority. He instead spoke with divine authority.

According to both Luke and Mark, as Jesus taught, a man possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

In reading through all the Gospels, there seems to have been quite a lot of this happening, almost a flurry of demonic activity cropping up around Jesus. Wherever He went, people needed physical healing, but also spiritual release from these parasitical entities.

Weirdly, The whole subject of demonology, and even Satan himself, seems to have sort of drifted into the metaphorical “no-fly zone” among Christians, for some reason. While the whole rest of the world remains fascinated with the paranormal, Christians seem to be leery of even admitting Satan exists. We'll get into that a little more in the next post.

Jesus’s response to the demon was swift, strong, and unswerving. “Be quiet. Come out of him.” That may not seem all that impressive until you look at what happened next. “Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.” That is a stupendous result. The demon immediately left the man, and did not dare to even injure him, let alone leave any lasting mark. All the demon could manage was throwing its human host to the floor like a discarded coat. So not like the exorcisms I've heard described, or are depicted in books and movies.

Imagine that happening of a Sunday morning, at your church’s worship service! Luke said, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What words these are! With authority and power He gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’ And the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding area.”

Among those awestruck people were Jesus’ six new disciples, who were only just beginning to grasp what it was going to mean to study under this rabbi. What must they have been thinking, as they trailed around Him, on their walk back to Peter’s house? Did they try to process what they’d just experienced, or did they just walk quietly, a little round-eyed, as they mulled it all over.

As they walked through the door of Peter’s small home, it was immediately evident something was wrong. Usually, after the Sabbath, there would be a festive meal to celebrate the Lord’s day. But Peter’s family was in disarray. His wife was surely exhausted and fretting, with the needs of her little one, and her suddenly, and seriously, ill mother, burning up with a fever, and unable to leave her bed.

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So He bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.” A simple story, yet think of the profound implications to these six young men, all in their teens and twenties, as they watched Jesus rebuke the illness, and see Peter’s mother-in-law become instantly well.

All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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